Insight is the golden road to love
It is the fourth day of a ten-day vipassana meditation retreat. Crossing her legs for four days has caused our friend Helen’s entire body to ache, and oh, the food is so bad. Waking up at dawn every day is torture too, but the real killer is no talking. Despite this, all the physical pains and discomfort are worth every minute to her as she comes to realize the meaning of the word ‘vipassana’ – insight. Helen is learning to focus inwardly and pay attention to her thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations.
The concept of meditation has become familiar to many people as it has gained popularity in our culture. Spiritual teachers often teach meditation as a part of their spiritual development programs. One of the popular techniques used is to teach people to empty their minds of thoughts. These teachers see thinking and thoughts as spiritual enemies and they say that in order to reach enlightenment their followers must neutralize their active minds. This technique is popular with people living in a highly digital fast paced and stressful lifestyle. It also works with people with addictions. With such extreme stress in their lives, many people develop mild neuroticism and they love this type of meditation – just empty the mind.
In one Japanese Zen retreat (Chan in Chinese), the Zen monk told practitioners that their minds were on vacation. Well, I have to give credit to the monk, he used a symbol of consumerism to explain meditation! However, he did not mislead the participants because he did not say that an emptying their minds could liberate them from suffering. Because of his suffering in life, Buddha Gautama teaches the Eightfold Path to liberate suffering. These eight paths can be grouped into three categories: 1) Wisdom/insight, 2) moral goodness/ethical living, and 3) meditation. The Eighth Path, the right effort, means persevere, don’t give up.
Of these three categories, Wisdom/insight is considered the most important one to use to free suffering by the vipassana school. To quiet the monkey mind in meditation is a first step. Once the mind is steady and focused, the practitioners in this school and other Buddhist schools use the concepts and knowledge they learn from their teachers to contemplate. If you want to free from suffering, you need to use your intellect at the right moment in the meditative state to gain insight.
What is insight? Insight is defined in this post as a developed skill which enables the observer to see beyond the phenomenon and their immediate experience. It is based on a conceptual understanding but go beyond knowledge – it is an experimental understanding of your observation. Insight is founded on the truth embedded in the experience. Truth is built on knowledge. What we experience depends on what we observe. Observation is shaped by our knowledge and the concepts that we have acquired from different sources. In other words, our socio-psychological experience is intimately structured by the knowledge and concepts that we are taught. This it is paramount for readers to acquire knowledge to be insightful in your own love relationship.
To be insightful has practical benefit, for this skill not only leads to the ultimate solution of human suffering (this is from a Buddhist perspective although I am not a Buddhist) but it also serves to improve relationships, both with yourself and with others. It means that your love life can be improved. In the last post I gave an example of how Helen detaches herself so that she could obtain an insight into the suffering of her father. The forgiveness and non-attachment that she achieved is based on the insight that she developed from the acquisition of conceptual based knowledge.
For my readers who are looking for a deep connection: Pay attention to how shallow or how deep your potential love interest is. Be aware that your judgement reflects your own development.
Where is the source of your love insight?
How do you use insight to improve your love relationship?